An interview: Meet Jonathan Ohayon - the founder of the F.A.K.E movement
We want to introduce you to one of our favorite sustainable and vegan fashion supporters: The F.A.K.E movement. F.A.K.E is an international platform committed to vegan, ethical and transparent fashion. With the F.A.K.E universe, the movement is creating and hosting a very first immersive 3D vegan fashion event on May 15th 2021. The past year has been a tough time for many businesses while live events seemed impossible. That's why the F.A.K.E movement was looking for a way to support vegan, ethical businesses and give them and their customers, takers and anyone who is interested in sustainable and vegan fashion an opportunity to „meet“ face-to-face again. At least virtually. The event will be a three-dimensional online experience where people can walk around and discover vegan designers and artists, listen to lectures, connect to like-minded people and learn more about vegan fashion.
"And it’s true - we’re all born vegan, we’re all animal lovers and it’s the system, the society that makes us forget our love for animals. We just need to go back to that and connect with it."
We’ve talked to Jonathan Ohayon, the 33-year old founder of the F.A.K.E movement about his own way to veganism, his development, the F.A.K.E movement and his upcoming virtual vegan event.
The F.A.K.E Museum © F.A.K.E Movement
Hi, Jonathan. How are you? Are you making progress with the preparations [for your upcoming event]?
Very good actually. The preparations for the event are going well. It’s mainly that I’m not alone. All the brands are helping as well. I’m doing most of the planning for the whole space I’m creating though. It’s a lot of work, but I love it.
You’re originally from France. How did you get to LA and why LA?
I was traveling everywhere and when I arrived in LA I fell in love with this place. It’s mainly the energy and how people always push you. If you want to create something in France, people tell you why you shouldn’t do it and when you say you want to do something in LA, people tell you why you should do it. I felt more supported here.
I also heard there’s a larger vegan community in LA than in Paris.
Oh yeah, it’s a beautiful community. Everybody is helping each other, everybody loves each other. There’s actually a fully vegan store. You can find everything you want. If you’re missing shrimps, burgers, cheese or whatever, you go there. It’s called Besties Vegan Paradise.
For how long have you been living vegan and when did you decide to do so?
I became vegan a little more than 7 years ago. I got sick of a steak I ate and talked to my cousin about how it’s only when I eat meat that I get sick. I started to realize that then. After that he told me about this video, „Best speech you will ever hear“, so I watched it and went vegan straight away - just from this short video. I was eating McDonald’s, I watched the video and I was vegan.
Seems like you made a crazy and rapid cut in your life by changing habits from one day to the next.
Yeah, my brother often tells people: „You’re already vegan, you just need to embrace it.“. And it’s true - we’re all born vegan, we’re all animal lovers and it’s the system, the society that makes us forget our love for animals. We just need to go back to that and connect with it.
It’s true. The more you read about veganism, the more it seems to be the best option in life. Or maybe not even an option but a necessity.
On a deeper level, that’s what helped me to be happy and drives me in life. Because when you’re vegan you live life with more value so you become more self aware. And self awareness is the key to happiness. Being in line with your value is the best thing you can do in life.
Living fully vegan, could you imagine buying leather fashion products? What do you think about that topic?
There are options for everyone. A lot of people tell me that real leather bags have a history - the history is that it’s the skin that belonged to an animal once and people forget to go back to the roots. You wouldn’t want to wear the skin of a human who just passed away either. Why don’t we feel the same about animals? Most of the cheaper leather gloves you find for 3-5$ are made of dog or cat skin.
You see! When I tell people they are like „What!?“. I can understand there are vegans that still wear leather. They don’t want to throw their leather clothes away or it’s something they’ve bought before [they became vegan] or second hand. It’s better that way than buying new leather. I just prefer not to, because I don’t want to support it and I feel there’s an energy to it. It’s also full of toxic chemicals. The global fashion agenda, it’s the leading unsustainable fashion certificate, proved that animal products have by far the worst impact on the environment. Leather is a coproduct, not a byproduct. Some animals are raised just for their skin and in the end you don’t even wear it. And you can’t just wear the skin. After a few days it would rot and smell bad, so you need a lot of chemicals to make it last forever. And yeah, those chemicals can go inside of your body. I use cork, it’s the best alternative.
We are not here to stay, we are here to make sure that the fashion industry stops exploiting animals and humans and when that happens we won’t need F.A.K.E anymore, because every brand will be ethical and you won’t need a place to find only ethical brands.
What did you do before you founded F.A.K.E?
I was in the bag industry with my dad. He decided to create a backpack that nobody can remove, steal or open while you wear it and it would be the best bag ever. He talked to my brother and me about it and we found a way to create and save the closure and even won a gold medal for best invention from the French ministry. From that point on, me and brother wanted to build a business all together. And it became a family business where we decided to be as ethical and sustainable as possible. We decided to produce in Portugal and use cork instead of synthetic material. Then I realized there were many brands like us who were not just vegan OR ethical but both together and embraced it, just like Fünf.
Okay, now let’s talk about F.A.K.E. How did you get the idea to found F.A.K.E? What inspired you?
It was actually Arsayo, the brand me and my brother created. After I realized there are more brands and people like us, I decided to create the F.A.K.E movement. I found a connection between ethical and vegan brands. We are a movement, so we always try to go the most ethical way possible and help and support each other.
How did your friends and family react? Are they „Fakers“ as well?
I would say a „Faker“ is someone who cares and wants to be better - especially in the fashion industry. But I think there is no way to be 100 percent perfect. When people ask me how to start an ethical brand, I tell them to focus on their mistakes. Just start and figure it out on the way. When you make mistakes you can always readjust. A Faker is someone who knows there is a problem but wants to be part of the solution. That’s why it’s called F.A.K.E. - Fashion for Animal Kingdom and Environment. Someone that cares for animals, humans and environment is a Faker.
How does Fünf as a brand fit in F.A.K.E?
I know that you, Fünf, are very close to the people who manufacture. Every brand that is part of the movement, just like Fünf, was personally called by me. If a brand is part of F.A.K.E you know that I spend a lot of time on the phone with them, asking about where and how they manufacture and what fabrics they use. I love what you do, I love the style and I feel like there is a real vibe when it comes to your brand. Every product is connected and this is beautiful.
Thank you so much. Another important topic: How do you imagine the future of the fashion industry?
Ehm, vegan! [laughs] No animals, humans or non-humans will be exploited. When people ask me about the future of the F.A.K.E movement I often say the future of F.A.K.E is to die, to not exist anymore - that’s the goal. We are not here to stay, we are here to make sure that the fashion industry stops exploiting animals and humans and when that happens we won’t need F.A.K.E anymore, because every brand will be ethical and you won’t need a place to find only ethical brands.
If you could change one thing in the fashion industry, what would it be?
I would make sure that people stop seeing animals or humans as a product. Any non-animal product is way more sustainable than any animal product and of course way more ethical. That’s why F.A.K.E has two requirements for a brand to be a part of the movement - the products have to be vegan and ethically made.
That’s a god topic to discuss and have a conversation about. We’re looking forward to the 15th of May when we can discuss in our booth [at the F.A.K.E event].
We’ll have a museum, a conference room and a market place. In the market place we have twenty brands and Fünf is one of them. We have the conference room but if anybody doesn’t like it or wants to check out other conferences, we have them in different booths as well. You for example will talk about your brand, have a giveaway and a Q&A session. It will be amazing.
How did you get the idea for this online event?
We had this event in Los Angeles, Paris and Tel Aviv and I wanted to connect people from around the world, because in our F.A.K.E movement we have people from around the world. When people were visiting the event in LA, they could see one precut from each vendor in Paris and Tel Aviv. The problem was the shipping of only one product - it costed money and a lot of CO2. This was not really sustainable, but I didn't think about online at that point. When Covid happened and all the online meetings started I thought: „Wait, that’s what we need to do“. I did a lot of research and it took me a year to finally find a way to do it. I wanted it to be interactive, like a video game. When you find a booth, you can click on it and have a live session with the designer - this was really important for me. I believe this is the future of fashion. People want to understand, know what they wear and the story behind it, because people want to consume less but better. The best way is to meet the designer and ask them questions. And that’s what people are able to do at this event.
The online event is also more sustainable, because people don’t have to drive cars [to get there].
It’s a hundred percent more sustainable. Like you said, people don’t need to use a car to go to the event. You just need to click. You don’t need to dress up, go out and as for the brands, they don’t have to transport all of their merchandise. Also now you can have as many people as you want coming to the event, there is no limit. You can have people from all over the world. We have a brand from Hong Kong for example. Someone from Hong Kong going to an event in Paris would cost a lot of money and blow a lot of CO2 in the air. So it’s definitely the most sustainable way to do.
We have read something about goody bags - is that true? What else can we expect?
We have a lot of gifts, a sponsor who will give away magazines and discounts from all the brands. Everybody gets a gift bag, the chance to meet the designer and join amazing conferences. We have great speakers like vegan activists, a stylist and technologists. There are so many things that happen in these five hours. Go check it out, this is gonna be a crazy event.
Top: Philipp & Louisa from Fünf
Bottom: Jonathan Ohayon